The “Downton Abbey” movie will get its chance to charm China thanks to a theatrical release on December 13, nearly three months after its U.S. September 20 release date.
The Julian Fellowes period TV series has been an extremely popular hit in China over the years, with audiences in the Communist country drawn in by the depictions of the opulent lives of Britain’s upper class in the show. All six season are available for streaming on the Youku platform.
With what was reportedly 160 million viewers tuning in back in 2014, the show sparked such a craze for British-style luxury that it actually initiated a trend among wealthier Chinese families to employ British-style butlers, creating a boom for butler training schools and agencies. And when Chinese premier Li Keqiang took a trip to the U.K. that year, British prime minister David Cameron gifted him a copy of the script of the first-ever “Downton” episode, signed by Fellowes.
The film, which reportedly cost around $20 million to make, has already grossed $95 million in the U.S. Directed by Michael Engler and produced by Fellowes, Gareth Neame, and Liz Trubridge, the Carnival Films production features the returning cast of the TV series, with stars including Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville and Laura Carmichael. It tells the story of a visit by the king and queen to the Crawley family’s estate, and an assassin who gets in the mix.
The film currently ranks a respectable 8.3 out of 10 on China’s Douban online user review platform, amongst Chinese viewers who have already managed to see it.